Tootsie Pops are hard candy lollipops filled with chocolate-flavored chewy Tootsie Rolls (a taffy-like candy that has been manufactured in the U.S. since 1907). They were invented in 1931 by Lukas R. ‘Luke’ Weisgram, an employee of The Sweets Company of America. The company changed its name to Tootsie Roll Industries in 1969.
Tootsie Pops are known for the catch phrase ‘How many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop?’ The phrase was first introduced in 1969 an animated commercial. In the original television ad, a questioning boy poses the question to a cow, a fox, a turtle and an owl. Each one of the first three animals tells the boy to ask someone else, explaining that they’d bite a Tootsie Pop every time they lick one. Eventually, he asks the owl, who starts licking it, but bites into the lollipop after only three licks, much to the chagrin of the boy, who gets the empty stick back. The commercial ends the same way, with various flavored Tootsie Pops unwrapped and being ‘licked away’ until being crunched in the center.
In addition to chocolate (the original flavor), Tootsie Pops come in cherry, orange, caramel, grape, raspberry, strawberry, watermelon, blue raspberry, and candy cane (seasonal). More recent flavors include pomegranate, banana, blueberry, and green apple. Another release, named ‘Tropical Stormz,’ features six swirl-textured flavors: orange, lemon lime, strawberry banana, apple blueberry, citrus punch, and berry berry punch. In 2002, 60 million Tootsie Rolls and twenty million Tootsie Pops were produced every day.
Tootsie Pops were the lollipop of choice of the titular character in the TV series ‘Kojak,’ and are seen prominently in the 1973 episode ‘Dark Sunday’ when Lt. Theo Kojak decides to favor them instead of cigarettes.
At some point, a rumor began that the lollipop wrappers which bore three unbroken circles were redeemable for free candy or even free items like shirts and other items. The rumor was untrue, but some shops have honored the wrapper offer over the years, allowing people to ‘win’ a free pop. Some stores redeemed lollipop wrappers with the ‘shooting star’ (bearing an image of a child dressed as a Native American aiming a bow and arrow at a star) for a free sucker. Since 1982, Tootsie Roll Industries has been distributing a short story, ‘The Legend of the Indian Wrapper,’ to children who mail in their Indian star wrappers as a ‘consolation prize.’
A Purdue University study concluded that it takes an average of 364 licks to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop using a ‘licking machine,’ while it takes an average of 252 licks when tried by 20 volunteers. In 2014, the Tribology Laboratory at the University of Florida published a study examining the coupled effects of biology, corrosion, and mechanical agitation on the wear of Tootsie Roll Pops. Self reported wear data from 58 participants was used in conjunction with statistical analysis of actual lollipop cross-sectional information in a numerical simulation to compute the average number of licks required to reach the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Roll Pop. The number of licks required to reach the center was found to be 195±18 licks.